Published by
Wiley (2020-06-02)
Current material
Paperback / softback
Original language
JudaismChristianityCriticism & exegesis of sacred texts

The Acts of the Apostles Through the Centuries

by Heidi J. HornikMikeal C. Parsons

"The authors take readers on a stimulating journey through one of the Bible's most intriguing books as it has been interpreted by theologians, artists, composers, and writers through the centuries. The chapter-by-chapter analysis of both the theological and reception history of the Acts of the Apostles expands the traditional boundaries of biblical studies, focusing on the significance of the visual as evidence for the doing of theology, biblical exegesis, and cultural history of Christianity."
Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, Georgetown University

Wonderfully researched and compellingly revealing, this new book shows how the reception of Acts of the Apostles illuminates not just the biblical text itself but also the attitudes of those interpreting it. The authors journey far beyond their analysis of the exegesis of Acts, tracing its influence on art and music, and charting the ways in which Luke's volume has guided the evangelism, worship practices, and institutions of ecclesiastical communities across the centuries.

The potent influence exerted by Acts affirms its place as perhaps the most significant of the New Testament books outside the Gospels themselves. With its accounts of the Ascension and the Pentecost, and its narrative of Paul's conversion and journeys, Acts inspired transcendent works of religious art and acted as a blueprint for the Christian Church's commitment to evangelism. The volume analyses the extent of that influence at key turning points in the religious—and political—history of Christianity.

This rich volume brings together an impressive array of representations and interpretations demonstrating the myriad ways in which Acts has inspired artists, writers, musicians, and clerics to create cultural treasures as well as to justify the stratagems of powerful vested interests.

The Acts of the Apostles Through the Centuries is published within the Wiley Blackwell Bible Commentaries series. Further information about this innovative reception history series is available at


Heidi J. Hornik is Professor of Italian Renaissance and Baroque Art History at Baylor University, USA. She is a highly respected art historian and scholar in the field of reception history, and the author of Michele Tosini and the Ghirlandaio Workshop in Cinquecento Florence (2009). Professor Hornik co-authored the three-volume series Illuminating Luke (2003, 2005, 2007) with her collaborator on this publication, Mikeal Parsons, with whom she also co-edited Interpreting Christian Art (2004).

Mikeal C. Parsons is Professor and Macon Chair in Religion at Baylor University, USA, where he has taught since 1986. His extensive publications on textual as well as interpretive topics in biblical studies include Body and Character in Luke and Acts: The Subversion of Physiognomy in Early Christianity (2011), and Luke: Storyteller, Evangelist, Interpreter (2007). Professor Parsons has collaborated with Professor Hornik on two previous publications, both as co-author on the three-volume series Illuminating Luke (2003, 2005, 2007), and as co-editor of Interpreting Christian Art (2004).


List of Figures vii

Series Editors’ Preface xiii

Preface xv

Acknowledgements xvii

List of Abbreviations xix

Introduction: Orienting the Reading 1

Acts 1 19

Acts 2 38

Acts 3–5 66

Acts 6–8 90

Acts 9 110

Acts 10–12 126

Acts 13–14 142

Acts 15 160

Acts 16–17 172

Acts 18–19 193

Acts 20–23 209

Acts 24–26 229

Acts 27–28 242

Epilogue 258

Appendix 1: Citations of the Acts of the Apostles in Creeds & Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition 262

Biographies and Glossary 285

Bibliography 296

Author and Artist Index 322

Index of Scripture References 330

Subject Index 339

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